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When I first started using the internet back in 2011, it wasn’t hard looking up games on Girls Go Games and thinking I was cool on Habbo Hotel because I had made two friends that were actually real people. There was a moment where I had a million accounts using different emails and I spent way too many hours talking to strangers online- the first thing my parents told me not to do.

 

Here are a few websites I remember spending hours on, almost as if I grew up with them. I’m sure there just might be one that you spent too much time on too.

 

Fantage

 

(Photo by Fantage)

 

Starting off with my personal favorite, Fantage was a safe place for younger players to interact with other people. As it developed, more places got added to the world, and you were able to customize your house, barn, and character with more items. Let’s not forget the iconic fashion shows where us broke kids always got wiped out by the VIP members and screaming ADOPTION AT MY PLACE in town.

 

But, if you’re thinking on digging for your old notebook with all of your passwords to log back in, you’re too late. Fantage was shut down June 30, giving all the players VIP membership in the weeks leading up to the shut down.

 

HappyMeal

 

(Photo courtesy of Izzy Neis)

 

Although this virtual world is also not available anymore, you can’t deny it was a blast to be on. My favorite part about getting a happy meal was the code that came with the toys, giving me more items for my treehouse. It was a very safe place where you couldn’t type any dialogue, so it was a lot harder to make friends you would remember.

 

Habbo

 

(Photo courtesy of Habbo)

 

One of the many games I probably should’ve stayed away from until I was a lot older, but still went on anyways. Although today it makes it hard for users to breathe with it’s heavy moderation and only making the game more fun for those who pay for a membership, Habbo always kept my attention with their pixel art and the concept that we’re all really just living in a big hotel.

 

Gaia Online

 

(Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia)

 

If you played on Gaia, chances are that you were an emo kid, scene kid, or you still are.

Gaia included many features like forums, minigames, and endless content to customize your avatar. Even though it was ridiculously hard to make money , it was a great place online where you could interact with people and make close friendships with those who shared your interests.

 

Of course, one by one, everyone just forgets to not log in anymore and they never come back. I went from  “my parents won’t let me log in until I finish my homework >.<” to “let me know when ur gonna be online uwu.” That was sent 1,453 days ago and never opened. If anyone knows an emo guy who went by Merlin and used Gaia, let him know I miss him.

 

The Gaia Online community is still active today and constantly under constant updates and improvements.

 

IMVU

 

(Photo courtesy of IMVU)

 

Without a doubt, IMVU is the reason I ruined my laptop. It was a game I actually had to download, which is something I didn’t really understand. I just wanted to play a game with these really cool looking avatars and talk to strangers online, like my mother wouldn’t have wanted. IMVU is one of those things I have about 0 memories about. I only remember its existence and that it was good enough for middle school me to stay up until 3 in the morning playing. It’s still being played today, and you can buy cards for the games currency in stores.

 

These are only five of the websites out of who knows how many (I didn’t forget about Club Penguin or Maplestory, I swear) that definitely shaped how we saw people around the world as we grew up with the internet. They came out around 2008, creating popular communities that still have a lot to offer today. A part of me wonders how much these websites contributed to our development in our preteen and teen years due to  the amount of hours that went into them, something must’ve clicked.

 

It’s pretty obvious though that it’s harder to build a user base now compared to almost 10 years ago. One by one, a lot of these websites are being shut down. We all eventually grew out of whatever websites we used to go on after school, but sometimes, it’s nice digging up old passwords just to see how the online community has changed.

Deedee Plata

UC Riverside '22

20 year old creative writing major with a love for skincare, representation, and art. When not laying down and watching cartoons, I can be found working on my novel or browsing through baby name forums.
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